This is a tough time in America. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, we are dealing with a loneliness epidemic. On top of that, our largest generation of workers is retiring, and there are not enough younger workers to fill those jobs. We are stretched, exhausted and isolated.
Building an infrastructure in the workplace that encourages and supports connection is important. Here are simple actions to begin building connections with your coworkers.
1 Be cognizant of the person who is new to the group. Whether you are a lower- or top-level employee, there is a feeling of trepidation when walking into a room where everyone knows each other. Be the person in the room, or on the call, who proactively introduces yourself and others.
2 Make it a call—better yet, a video call. This happened to me the other day. A coworker from St. Louis video-called me, and we had a great conversation talking business and personal. At first it caught me off-guard (notably, am I presentable to be on camera?). However, very quickly, I was enjoying the conversation and glad that she had reached out in that manner. We never would have gotten to know each other as well had she sent an email. Plus my energy perked up after the call (which is good for my employer!).
3 Never undervalue human connection. I once managed an employee who worked remotely and knew there were many times that we could skip her status meeting. However, I always kept our time. Working at home, alone, she needed the human interaction. She was a fabulous employee, and I did not want to lose her due to isolation. I had plenty of work to do but knew my connection with her was more important.
4 Don’t be business all the time. It is good for you to exercise your social muscles and give your work brain a rest. If you have coworkers nearby, do a monthly lunch or social hour to increase your connection to them. If possible, schedule a day a week for you to work together. That gives you a change of scenery and a kinship opportunity with others.
Small gestures and simple acts go a long, hospitable way! ::